In the nation’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, several organisations are hitting the headlines by going beyond their call of duty and so are the courts in Bihar.
Apart from delivering key judgements, the legal institutions in the state on various occasions have motivated people to bring about positive changes in society amid the pandemic.
In a first for the country, the Patna High Court set conditions for granting bail to people amid the lockdown — the accused should join the government’s battle against the COVID-19 crisis.
Recently, a builder charged with forgery and cheating was granted bail by the Patna High Court on the condition of him lending his services to the state government in its fight against the pandemic for at least three months.
The builder identified as Khalid Rashid had allegedly cheated Kumari Priyanka by not giving the possession of a flat she had booked in the apartment being constructed by him in Patna despite receiving the full amount.
Since all her requests went unattended, she registered a case in the Kotwali Police Station in August 2018, following which the builder was arrested and sent to jail.
After more than a year of staying in the prison, the accused moved the Patna High Court for bail, which he was granted on the condition of working under civil surgeon Raj Kishore Chaudhary, who deployed him at the gate of the local civil court.
The builder has been told to check the body temperature of every person visiting the civil court in view of the coronavirus spread.
“This is a unique experience,” said the builder, who can now be seen stationed at the main gate of the court, thermal screening the visitors.
In another case, accused Prafful Kumar who was allegedly found to be involved in the smuggling of liquor was granted bail on the condition of him donating ₹20,000 to the PM-CARES relief fund, which was created in March in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund is being used for combating, containment, and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
Consumption, manufacture, and sale of liquor was banned in Bihar four years ago, enforcing a total prohibition.
The man, who was arrested after liquor bottles were recovered from his vehicle, denied knowing anything about the incident, claiming that neither was he driving the car nor he was present at the spot.
Hearing his contention, the court directed him to deposit money in the PM CARES Fund which was also the judgement given in several other similar cases.
Legal experts are divided over the move of courts granting bails to the accused with such riders.
“Such orders are in the interest of the society which will fill the coffers and motivate the people to join the fight against pandemic disease but legally they are not correct I would say,” said prominent lawyer Tuhin Shankar.
Concurring the same, advocate Shruti Singh said such orders would convey a good message in the society.
“COVID-19 has emerged as a severe threat to humanity across the globe and the court’s unique conditions for granting bails to the accused persons will very obviously make people know the importance of the role a common man can play in fighting Corona,” she said.
Meanwhile, the courts have taken various initiatives to bring changes in the society such as replacing severe punishments with reforms. For example, the persons charged with rape, murder, kidnapping, and other serious offences were given bizarre punishments such as serving water to the lawyers, cleaning temple floors, launching save girl campaigns, and making people aware of their voting rights for which the court explains these will bring tremendous change in the society.
In August last year, a juvenile court in Bihar’s Nalanda district directed a teenager, who was accused for abducting a girl for marriage while she was going to attend a coaching class, to launch campaign against mob lynching which has become a matter of serious concern in the state.
Another teenager was ordered to serve water to the lawyers for a month for trying to rape a minor girl.